Girl Crush: Jolie Walsh (my Soul Cycle instructor)

Love Life and Lollipops- Jolie Walsh

As you all already know (because I go on and on), I'm newly obsessed with Soul Cycle.  A handful of weeks ago my sister-in-law Rachel convinced me to join her for a class.  It was so far astray from the type of activity that I usually participate in, but I agreed to do it (reluctantly).  Half way through my first class, dying, I knew I was hooked.  Jolie (my instructor) was supercute, amazingly energetic (considering she was 7 months pregnant), and totally inspiring.  I loved her, Soul Cycle, spin, and the crazy sweat I just had.

Since I've been to a bunch of classes (I get to as many as I can, though there is no Brooklyn location- hint hint Soul Cycle peeps).  I'm still not so great, but getting better each time.  Every once in a while Jolie calls me out over her mic, probably to shame me into spinning faster, and it works!  Probably not though...she's way too nice for that;)

Soooo...I asked her if she'd be willing to do an interview for us and she was happy to!  Here's how that went down:

2. How'd you get started in this crazy world of spinning? Give me a bit of background…

I started spinning back in Puerto Rico when I went home for the summer after my Freshman Year in College. It was love at first sight. I got to be in a dark room, get a great workout and all while spinning to latin music. Back at home, they didn't quite choreograph things to music, but there was definitely the connection of feeling the beat of the music and spinning to it. I've been singing and performing almost my entire life. I have a bachelor and masters degree in Music, so music you could say is my first language. I can really let go, forget about everything else that's going on in my life and get such an adrenaline rush from it. Whenever I feel stressed in my life or going through something difficult, exercising, such as spinning or running, have been the way I've deal with all of that. There is no better drug or therapy for me, than exercise.

2. Your class is crazy popular, which speaks directly to your infectious energy. Were your classes a hit from the beginning or did your following grow as you taught more? What do you think draws so many people to your classes?

First of all, thank you so much, that is so sweet of you. I think it's been a bit of both. Thankfully, I have been very lucky to have been able to create a following from the very beginning. When you first start teaching you must show the company that no matter what time of the day you teach, you can grow a class from 0- to full in a matter of months. This can be a little bit of a challenge when the times you first get are not as popular or when nobody really knows who you are.  I found that no matter how small the class was when I first started, I'd put as much effort, love and passion toward creating that playlist as if I would if it were packed and my boss would be coming to take class. I find that the more you care about anything you do in life, the better you do. I absolutely LOVE teaching. Everyday I look forward to creating not just an incredible playlist and ride, but an incredible experience. I want it to feel like it was the best time you have ever had in your life. Every group you teach is unique and I try to create a ride that would make those specific riders feel the high, feel like they just had the best experience while working out.

To your other question, I think that the reason people want to come back to my class is because first of all they know they will be getting a challenging workout, I try to change what we do from class to class, so that every time you come back, you get challenged physically. Because I love to ride myself, I try to design the class the way I'd like the class to be for myself. I also think riders know I will make every single class to be a completely new experience. So no matter how many times you come take my class a week, you will find that I don't like to repeat my music or what we do in the class. I also think, you can sense my love and passion for what I do. I think you can truly sense when a teacher really cares about you, and you can feel that the teacher doesn't want to be anywhere else in the world but there with you in that moment. I teach this way every single class.

3. You have a fantastic, characteristic uuuugh (sp?) grunt that you chant out throughout your class that has a energizing effect which makes me smile every time (and pedal faster), was that cultivated or a natural product of your class teachings?

Haha! You made me smile when I read this question. The funny thing is that I had NO idea I was doing this until very recently, when one rider told me how much he loved this "grunt" sound I make. I don't really know when it started happening. I do feel the music so deeply that I think sometimes I don't find the right words to describe my passion for the music or for what I want to say, so I just start making sounds to make the point across.  I really try to make it as organic and as clear as possible so that everyone can relate to what I'm trying to convey. This "grunt" has definitely been a natural product of my teaching and not at all planned.

4. How do you come up with your playlists? What is your favorite song for sprinting? For  isolating? For cool down?

Oh my goodness, I don't think I can pick favorite songs, this is a really hard question!! I have so many I absolutely love. Of course everyone knows my love affair with Eminem and Pitbull but truly, I just love so many different styles of music, it's hard to pick a favorite. I love hip hop, I love rap, I love alternative, I love jazz, I love good music, really good music.

I come up with playlists the same day I will go teach the class. I am constantly listening to new music and new mixes and mashups, so that by the time I start to make a playlist I already have a few songs I know I would like to use. I make playlists according to the day, the weather, the way I feel, the time of the class, the riders that are coming to take the class. It's really about creating a unique experience for that particular class, every single time.

5. So you're 7 months pregnant! And you put me to shame on that bike! How has pregnancy effected your workouts? Energy? Moods?

You are too sweet. I'm actually 8 1/2 months pregnant now, which I can't even believe! I really just feel great. The first trimester wasn't the easiest, because not only did I have a lot of nausea, I fell really badly and ended up having a third degree sprain. I was on crutches for 3 weeks and could barely walk for about 2 1/2 months. So that was really challenging. I still came to teach, on crutches, and taught off the bike for a while but I was really missing spinning and exercising. That was the most challenging part of my pregnancy so far- and it was basically because I couldn't do what I wanted to do.  Now I just feel so grateful to be able to exercise and spin that I'm just excited to be able to do it again. I am really one of those people that needs to do some sort of exercise every single day. Even on my days off, I need to do something and feel like I'm getting a sweat or I don't feel like myself. I feel so happy every time I go teach, that the energy I get is better than anything else I could do for myself. I have been really blessed throughout this pregnancy, because not only has the doctor given me the two thumbs up to keep doing what I'm doing until I go into labor, but I also have the most supportive riders in the world. I feel like this baby is already so loved by so many people because every time I come teach I feel so much love from all the riders. Everyone seems so excited for me to have this baby. I feel very blessed I get to be surrounded by such incredible people and such a loving community of riders.  Soul cycle is a very special community.

6. As i'm sure you can see when I come to class,Ii'm entirely incapable of coordination on the bike.  I can't seem to get my legs to move fast enough and on the beat (though I don't doubt I'm burning 4 million calories from the amount I sweat). That said, what advice do you have for novices like myself who wanna do it better and spin their hearts out?!?

Practice and time will make all the difference in the world. The more you do anything in life, the better you get at it. The most important thing you can do is be patient and kind with yourself. Life is too short to be stressed or worried about being perfect at something you just started doing. This is supposed to be fun, this is meant to help you release stress and burn some calories. You don't want to take away the joy out of something that can be so powerful and incredible for you. Sometimes it takes a little time to get used to it and to get really good at it but it's like anything else you want to do in life that you've never done before. I promise you that the more you keep coming, the more you practice, the faster your legs will go and the stronger you will get. I have no doubt about it. I've seen you in class and you ride with so much passion and commitment and that's all you need to get good at anything in life.

Love Love her!  I actually just got home from a class and apparently Lulu Lemon loves her too cause they surprised her in class last week and named her their newest ambassador!  Woot woot!  Congrats Jolie I'm so uberhappy for you!  xoxo

PS- I entirely attribute Jolie's class for kicking my body back into shape.  I'm down to 2 lbs to go!  Check me out:

You can follow up with what's cooking with Jolie on her Facebook or Twitter or join me for a class at Union Square one day!!!

Eve